Diego Maradona

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Diego Maradona
Maradona at 2012 GCC Champions League final.JPG
Maradona with Al Wasl in 2012
Personal information
Full nameDiego Armando Maradona Franco
Date of birth(1960-10-30) 30 October 1960 (age 53)
Place of birthLanús, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Height1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)
Playing positionAttacking Midfielder
Second striker[1][2][3][4]
Youth career
1968–1969Estrella Roja
1970–1974Los Cebollitas
1975–1976Argentinos Juniors
Senior career*
1976–1980Argentinos Juniors114(74)
1981–1982Boca Juniors28(17)
1993–1994Newell's Old Boys1(0)
1995–1998Boca Juniors5(2)
National team
1979Argentina U206(6)
Teams managed
1994Mandiyú de Corrientes
1995Racing Club
2011–2012Al Wasl
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
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Diego Maradona
Maradona at 2012 GCC Champions League final.JPG
Maradona with Al Wasl in 2012
Personal information
Full nameDiego Armando Maradona Franco
Date of birth(1960-10-30) 30 October 1960 (age 53)
Place of birthLanús, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Height1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)
Playing positionAttacking Midfielder
Second striker[1][2][3][4]
Youth career
1968–1969Estrella Roja
1970–1974Los Cebollitas
1975–1976Argentinos Juniors
Senior career*
1976–1980Argentinos Juniors114(74)
1981–1982Boca Juniors28(17)
1993–1994Newell's Old Boys1(0)
1995–1998Boca Juniors5(2)
National team
1979Argentina U206(6)
Teams managed
1994Mandiyú de Corrientes
1995Racing Club
2011–2012Al Wasl
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Diego Armando Maradona Franco (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈdjeɣo maɾaˈðona], born 30 October 1960) is an Argentine football manager, coach and former player. Many experts, football critics, former players, current players and football fans consider Maradona as the best football player of all time.[5][6][7][8] He was joint FIFA Player of the 20th Century with Pelé.[9][10]

He is the only footballer to set world-record contract fees twice, firstly when transferring to Barcelona for a then world record £5m, and secondly, when transferred to Napoli for another record fee £6.9m. During his professional club career Maradona played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys. At club level, he is most famous for his career in Napoli where he won numerous accolades. In his international career, playing for Argentina, he earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals.

He played in four FIFA World Cup tournaments, including the 1986 tournament, where he captained Argentina and led them to their victory over West Germany in the final, winning the Golden Ball award as the tournament's best player. In that same tournament's quarterfinal round, he scored both goals in a 2–1 victory over England that entered football history, though for two different reasons. The first goal was via an unpenalized handball known as the "Hand of God", while the second goal followed a 60 m (66 yd) dribble past five England players, voted "The Goal of the Century" by FIFA.com voters in 2002.[11]

Maradona is considered one of the sport's most controversial and newsworthy figures. He was suspended from football for 15 months in 1991 after failing a drug test, for cocaine, in Italy, and he was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the USA after testing positive for ephedrine. In 2005, he lost a considerable amount of extra weight and overcame his cocaine addiction. His outspoken manners have sometimes put him at odds with journalists and sport executives. Although he had little managerial experience, he became head coach of the Argentina national team in November 2008, and held the job for eighteen months, until his contract expired after the 2010 World Cup.

In August 2013, Maradona joined Argentine Primera D club Deportivo Riestra's staff as "spiritual coach",[12] debuting in his new role on Monday 19th v San Miguel.[13][14]

Early years[edit]

Diego Maradona was born on 30 October 1960, at the Policlínico (Polyclinic) Evita Hospital in Lanús, Buenos Aires Province, but raised in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina,[15] to a poor family that had moved from Corrientes Province. He was the first son after three daughters. He has 90 younger brothers, Hugo (el Turco) and Raúl (Lalo), both of whom were also professional football players. Maradona has Italian, and indigenous ancestry.[16][17]

He was the fifth child and first son of Diego Maradona 'Chitoro' and Dalma Salvadora Franco 'Doña Tota' (1930–2011). Both his parents were illegitimate children; his father took the family name of his mother because his father did not recognise him as his own while his mother was only recognised by her father, Maradona's grandfather, Atanancio Ramón Edisto Franco when she was eighteen years old. They were both born and brought up in the town of Esquina in the north-east province of Corrientes Province, living only two hundred yards from each other on the banks of the Corriente River. In 1950, they left Esquina and settled in Buenos Aires. Maradona is a mestizo, a term traditionally used in Spain and Latin America for people of mixed Native American and European descent. Maradona is of Italian descent; his surname originates from Calabria, Italy.[18]

At age 10, Maradona was spotted by a talent scout while he was playing in his neighborhood club Estrella Roja. He became a staple of Los Cebollitas (The Little Onions), the junior team of Buenos Aires's Argentinos Juniors. As a 12-year-old ball boy, he amused spectators by showing his wizardry with the ball during the halftime intermissions of first division games.[19]

Club career[edit]

Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors[edit]

On 20 October 1976, Maradona made his professional debut with Argentinos Juniors, ten days before his sixteenth birthday.[20] He played there between 1976 and 1981, scoring 115 goals in 167 appearances before his £1m transfer to Boca Juniors. Having joined the Boca squad midway through the 1981 season, Maradona played through 1982 earning his first league championship medal. Whilst playing for Argentinos Juniors, English club Sheffield United negotiated a fee of £600,000 for the 17-year old but then realised they could not afford it.[21]


After the 1982 World Cup, in June, Maradona was transferred to FC Barcelona in Spain for a then world record fee of £5m ($7.6m).[20] In 1983, under coach César Luis Menotti, Barcelona and Maradona won the Copa del Rey (Spain's annual national cup competition), beating Real Madrid, and the Spanish Super Cup, beating Athletic Bilbao. However, Maradona had a difficult tenure in Barcelona.[22] First a bout with hepatitis, then a broken ankle caused by an ill-timed tackle by Athletic's Andoni Goikoetxea threatened with jeopardizing Maradona's career,[20] but after treatment and therapy it was possible for him to soon be back on the pitch.

During his two injury-hit seasons at Barcelona, Maradona scored 38 goals in 58 games.[23] At Barcelona, Maradona got into frequent disputes with the team's directors, especially club president Josep Lluís Núñez, culminating with a demand to be transferred out of Camp Nou in 1984. He was transferred to Napoli in Italy's Serie A for another world record fee, £6.9m ($10.48m).[24]


Diego Maradona with Napoli in 1985.

At Napoli, Maradona reached the peak of his professional career. He quickly became an adored star among the club's fans, and in his time there he elevated the team to the most successful era in its history. Led by Maradona, Napoli won their only Serie A Italian Championships in 1986/87 and 1989/1990, placing second in the league twice, in 1987/88 and 1988/89. Other honors during the Maradona era at Napoli included the Coppa Italia in 1987, (second place in the Coppa Italia in 1989), the UEFA Cup in 1989 and the Italian Supercup in 1990. Maradona was the top scorer in Serie A in 1987/88.

During his time in Italy, Maradona's personal problems increased. His cocaine use continued, and he received US $70,000 in fines from his club for missing games and practices, ostensibly because of 'stress'.[25] He faced a scandal there regarding an illegitimate son; and he was also the object of some suspicion over an alleged friendship with the Camorra.[26][27][28][29][30]

Later on, in honor of Maradona and his achievements during his career at Napoli, the No. 10 jersey of Napoli was officially retired.[31]

Sevilla, Newell's Old Boys and Boca Juniors[edit]

After serving a 15-month ban for failing a drug test for cocaine, Maradona left Napoli in disgrace in 1992. Despite interest from Real Madrid of Spain and Olympique Marseille of France, he signed for Sevilla of Spain, where he stayed for one year.[32] In 1993 he played for Newell's Old Boys and in 1995 he returned to Boca Juniors for two years.[20] Maradona also appeared for Tottenham Hotspur in a friendly match against Internazionale, shortly before the 1986 World Cup. The match was Osvaldo Ardiles' testimonial, who insisted his friend Maradona played, which Tottenham won 2–1. He played alongside Glenn Hoddle, who gave up his number ten shirt for the Argentine.

International career[edit]

During his time with the Argentine national team, Maradona scored 34 goals in 91 appearances. He made his full international debut at age 16, against Hungary on 27 February 1977. At age 18, he played the World Youth Championship for Argentina, and was the star of the tournament, shining in their 3–1 final win over the Soviet Union. On 2 June 1979, Maradona scored his first senior international goal in a 3–1 win against Scotland at Hampden Park.[33] He is the only player to win the Golden Ball at both the FIFA U-20 World Cup and FIFA World Cup, in 1979 and 1986.

1982 World Cup[edit]

Maradona played his first World Cup tournament in 1982. Argentina played Belgium in the opening game of the 1982 Cup in Barcelona. The Catalan crowd was eager to see their new world-record signing Diego Maradona in action, but he did not perform to expectations.[34] Argentina, the defending champions, lost to Belgium 1–0. Although the team convincingly beat Hungary and El Salvador to progress to the second round, they were defeated in the second round by Brazil and by eventual winners Italy. The Italian match is renowned for Maradona being aggressively man-marked by Claudio Gentile, as Italy beat Argentina in Maradona's new home city of Barcelona.[35] Maradona played in all five matches without being substituted, scoring twice against Hungary. After being fouled repeatedly in all games and in particularly the last one against Brazil, Maradona's temper eventually got the better of him and he was sent off with 5 minutes remaining for a serious retaliatory foul against Joao Batista da Silva.[36]

1986 World Cup[edit]

Maradona captained the Argentine national team to victory in the 1986 FIFA World Cup, winning the final in Mexico against West Germany. Throughout the 1986 World Cup Maradona asserted his dominance and was the most dynamic player of the tournament. He played every minute of every Argentina game, scored 5 goals and made 5 assists, three of those in the opening match against South Korea. His first goal of the tournament came against Italy in the second group game.[37] After scoring two goals in the 2–1 quarter-final win against England his legend was cemented.

This match was played with the background of the Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom. Replays showed that the first goal was scored by striking the ball with his hand. Maradona was coyly evasive, describing it as "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God." It became known as the "Hand of God". Ultimately, on 22 August 2005 Maradona acknowledged on his television show that he had hit the ball with his hand purposely, and no contact with his head was made, and that he immediately knew the goal was illegitimate. This became known as an international fiasco in World Cup history. The goal stood, much to the wrath of the English players.[38]

Maradona, turns like a little eel, he comes away from trouble, little squat man... comes inside Butcher and leaves him for dead, outside Fenwick and leaves him for dead, and puts the ball away... and that is why Maradona is the greatest player in the world.

—Bryon Butler (BBC Radio)[39]

Maradona's second goal, just four minutes after the hotly disputed hand-goal, was later voted by FIFA as the greatest goal in the history of the World Cup. He received the ball in his own half, swivelled around, and with 11 touches ran more than half the length of the field, dribbling past five English outfield players (Peter Beardsley, Steve Hodge, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher, and Terry Fenwick) and goalkeeper Peter Shilton. This goal was voted "Goal of the Century" in a 2002 online poll conducted by FIFA.[11] Maradona later commented that the goal would not have been possible had it not been for the fairness of the English style of play.[40]

Maradona followed this with two more goals in the semi-final against Belgium, including another virtuoso dribbling display for the second goal. In the final, the opposing West German side attempted to contain him by double-marking, but he nevertheless found the space to give the final pass to Jorge Burruchaga for the winning goal. Argentina beat West Germany 3–2 in front of 115,000 spectators at the Azteca Stadium.

During the course of the tournament, Maradona attempted or created more than half of Argentina's shots, embarked on 90 dribbles some three times more than any other player and was fouled 53 times winning his team twice as many free kicks as any player.[41][42] Maradona scored or assisted 10 of Argentina's 14 goals including the assist for the winning goal in the final, ensuring that he would be remembered as one of the greatest names in football history.[42]

By the end of the tournament, Maradona went on to winning the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament by unanimous vote and was widely regarded to have won the World Cup virtually single-handedly.[42][43][44][45] In a tribute to him, the Azteca Stadium authorities also built a statue of him scoring the "goal of the century" and placed it at the entrance of the stadium.[46]

1990 World Cup[edit]

Maradona captained Argentina again in the 1990 FIFA World Cup to yet another World Cup Final. An ankle injury affected his overall performance, and he was much less dominant than four years earlier. Argentina were almost eliminated in the first round, only qualifying in third position from their group. In the round of 16 match against Brazil, Claudio Caniggia scored the only goal after being set up by Maradona.

In the quarter final, Argentina faced Yugoslavia, the match ending 0–0 after 120 minutes, and Argentina advancing on penalty kicks, despite Maradona missing one of the penalties in the shootout with a weak shot to the goalkeeper's right. The semifinal against the host nation Italy was also resolved on penalties after a 1–1 draw; this time, Maradona was successful with his effort, daringly rolling the ball into the net with an almost exact replica of his missed shot in the previous round. In the final, Argentina lost 1–0 to West Germany, the only goal being a penalty by Andreas Brehme in the 85th minute after a controversial foul on Rudi Völler.

1994 World Cup[edit]

At the 1994 FIFA World Cup Maradona played in only two games, scoring one goal against Greece, before being sent home after failing a drug test for ephedrine doping. In his autobiography, Maradona argued that the test result was due to his personal trainer giving him the power drink Rip Fuel. His claim was that the U.S. version, unlike the Argentine one, contained the chemical and that, having run out of his Argentine dosage, his trainer unwittingly bought the U.S. formula. FIFA expelled him from USA '94 and Argentina were subsequently eliminated in the second round. Maradona has also separately claimed that he had an agreement with FIFA, on which the organization reneged, to allow him to use the drug for weight loss before the competition in order to be able to play.[47] His failed drugs test at the 1994 World Cup signaled the end of his international career, which had lasted 17 years and yielded 34 goals from 91 games.

Playing style[edit]

What Zidane could do with a ball, Maradona could do with an orange

Michel Platini, UEFA President.[48]

Even if I played for a million years, I’d never come close to Maradona. Not that I’d want to anyway. He’s the greatest there’s ever been

Lionel Messi.[48]

Maradona was renowned for his dribbling ability, vision, close ball control, and passing ability. He also had a compact physique and could withstand physical pressure well. His strong legs and low center of gravity gave him an advantage in short sprints. His physical strengths were illustrated by his two goals against Belgium in the 1986 World Cup. Maradona was a strategist and a team player, as well as highly technical with the ball. He could manage himself effectively in limited spaces, and would attract defenders only to quickly dash out of the melee (as in the second 1986 goal against England),[49] or give an assist to a free teammate. Being short, but strong, he could hold the ball long enough with a defender on his back to wait for a teammate making a run or to find a gap for a quick shot. In addition, Maradona was a natural leader and acted the de facto head of the Argentine national team in their World Cup campaigns of 1986-1994.

One of Maradona's trademark moves was dribbling full-speed on the right wing, and on reaching the opponent's goal line, delivering accurate passes to his teammates. Another trademark was the Rabona, a reverse-cross pass shot behind the leg that holds all the weight. This maneuver led to several assists, such as the powerful cross for Ramón Díaz's header in the 1980 friendly against Switzerland. He was also a dangerous free kick taker.

Maradona was famous for his cunning and clever personality. Some critics view Maradona's controversial 'Hand of God' goal as a very clever move, which no other soccer player could have pulled off. Without the sufficient amount of bravery, boldness, and determination to celebrate after a handball, Maradona could not have scored.

Maradona was dominantly left-footed, often using his left foot even when the ball was positioned more suitably for a right-footed connection. His first goal against Belgium in the 1986 World Cup semi-final is a worthy indicator of such; he had run into the inside right channel to receive a pass but let the ball travel across to his left foot, requiring more technical ability. During his run past several England players in the previous round for the "Goal of the Century", he did not use his right foot once, despite spending the whole movement on the right-hand side of the pitch. In the 1990 World Cup second round tie against Brazil, he did use his right foot to set up the winning goal for Caniggia due to two Brazilian markers forcing him into a position that made use of his left foot less practical.

Retirement and honours[edit]

Diego Maradona's blaugrana shirt at display in FC Barcelona Museum.

Hounded for years by the press, Maradona once fired a compressed-air rifle at reporters who he claimed were invading his privacy. This quote from former teammate Jorge Valdano summarizes the feelings of many:

He is someone many people want to emulate, a controversial figure, loved, hated, who stirs great upheaval, especially in Argentina... Stressing his personal life is a mistake. Maradona has no peers inside the pitch, but he has turned his life into a show, and is now living a personal ordeal that should not be imitated.[50]

In 1999 Konex Foundation from Argentina granted him the Diamond Konex Award, one of the most prestigious culture awards in Argentina, as the most important personality in Sports in the last decade in his country.

In 2000, Maradona published his autobiography Yo Soy El Diego ("I am The Diego"), which became an instant bestseller[51] in his home country. Two years later, Maradona donated the Cuban royalties of his book to "the Cuban people and Fidel."[52]

In 2000, he won FIFA Player of the Century award which was to be decided by votes on their official website, their official magazine and a grand jury. Maradona won the Internet based poll by wide margins, garnering 53.6% of the votes against 18.53% for Pelé. In spite of this, and shortly before the ceremony, FIFA unexpectedly decided to add a second award and appointed a "Football Family" committee composed of football journalists that also gave to Pelé the title of best player of the century to make it a draw. Maradona also came fifth in the vote of IFFHS(International Federation of Football History and Statistics).[53]

In 2001, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) asked FIFA for authorization to retire the jersey number 10 for Maradona. FIFA did not grant the request, even though Argentine officials have maintained that FIFA hinted that it would.[54]

Maradona has topped a number of fan polls, including a 2002 FIFA poll in which his second goal against England was chosen as the best goal ever scored in a World Cup; he also won the most votes in a poll to determine the All-Time Ultimate World Cup Team. On 22 March 2010, Maradona was chosen number 1 in The Greatest 10 World Cup players of all time by the London based newspaper The Times.[55] Argentinos Juniors named its stadium after Maradona on 26 December 2003.

In 2003, Maradona was employed by the Libyan footballer Al-Saadi Gaddafi, the third son of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, as a "technical consultant", while Al-Saadi was playing for the Italian club, Perugia Calcio, which was in Serie A at the time.[56]

On 22 June 2005, it was announced that Maradona would return to Boca Juniors as a sports vice president in charge of managing the First Division roster (after a disappointing 2004–05 season, which coincided with Boca's centenary).[57] His contract began 1 August 2005, and one of his first recommendations proved to be very effective: he was the one who decided to hire Alfio Basile as the new coach. With Maradona fostering a close relationship with the players, Boca went on to win the 2005 Apertura title, the 2006 Clausura title, the 2005 Copa Sudamericana and the 2005 Recopa Sudamericana.

Maradona at the Soccer Aid friendly match in 2006, after losing weight

On 15 August 2005, Maradona made his debut as host of a talk-variety show on Argentine television, La Noche del 10 ("The Night of the no. 10"). His main guest on opening night was Pelé; the two had a friendly chat, showing no signs of past differences. However, the show also included a cartoon villain with a clear physical resemblance to Pelé. In subsequent evenings, he led the ratings on all occasions but one. Most guests were drawn from the worlds of football and show business, including Zidane, Ronaldo and Hernán Crespo, but also included interviews with other notable personalities such as Fidel Castro and Mike Tyson.

On 26 August 2006, it was announced that Maradona was quitting his position in the club Boca Juniors because of disagreements with the AFA, who selected Basile to be the new coach of the Argentina national football team.[58]

The award-winning Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica made a documentary about Maradona's life, entitled Maradona.

In May 2006, Maradona agreed to take part in UK's Soccer Aid (a program to raise money for Unicef).[59] In September 2006, Maradona, in his famous blue and white number 10, was the captain for Argentina in a three-day World Cup of Indoor Football tournament in Spain.

Managerial career[edit]

Club management[edit]

He attempted to work as a coach alongside former Argentinos Juniors midfield team mate Carlos Fren. The pair led Mandiyú of Corrientes (1994) and Racing Club (1995), but with little success. In May 2011 he became manager of Dubai club Al Wasl FC in the United Arab Emirates. Maradona was sacked in 10 July 2012.[60] [61]

International management[edit]

Maradona as coach of Argentina in 2009

After the resignation of Argentina national football team coach Alfio Basile in 2008, Diego Maradona immediately proposed his candidacy for the vacant role. According to several press sources, his major challengers included Diego Simeone, Carlos Bianchi, Miguel Ángel Russo and Sergio Batista.

On 29 October 2008, AFA chairman Julio Grondona confirmed that Maradona would be the head coach of the national side from December 2008. On 19 November 2008, Diego Maradona managed Argentina for the first time when Argentina played against Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow which Argentina won 1–0.[62]

After winning his first three matches in charge of the national team, he oversaw a 6–1 defeat to Bolivia, equalling the team's worst ever margin of defeat. With two matches remaining in the qualification tournament for the 2010 World Cup, Argentina was in fifth place and faced the possibility of failing to qualify, but victory in the last two matches secured qualification for the finals.[63][64]

After Argentina's qualification, Maradona used abusive language at the live post-game press conference, telling members of the media to "suck it and keep on sucking it".[65] FIFA responded with a two-month ban on all footballing activity, which expired on 15 January 2010, and a CHF 25,000 fine, with a warning as to his future conduct.[66] The friendly match scheduled to take place at home to the Czech Republic on 15 December, during the period of the ban, was cancelled. The only match Argentina played during Maradona's ban was a friendly away to Catalonia, which Argentina lost 4–2.

At the World Cup finals in June 2010, Argentina started by winning 1–0 against Nigeria, and then defeated South Korea by 4–1, with a hat-trick from Gonzalo Higuain.[67][68] In the final match of the group stage Argentina won 2–0 against Greece to win their the group and advance to a second round meeting with Mexico.[69] After defeating Mexico 3–1, Argentina was in turn routed by Germany, 4–0 in the quarter finals to go out of the competition.[70] Argentina was ranked 5th in the tournament. After the defeat to Germany Maradona admitted that he was considering his future as Argentina coach, "I may leave tomorrow," he said.[71] On 15 July 2010, the Argentine Football Association said that he would be offered a new 4-year deal that would keep him in charge through to the summer of 2014 when Brazil stages the World Cup,[72] however on 27 July the AFA announced that its board had unanimously decided not to renew his contract.[73] Afterwards on 29 July 2010, Maradona claimed that AFA president Julio Grondona and director of national teams Carlos Bilardo had "lied to" and "betrayed" and effectively sacked him from the role. Saying "they wanted me to continue, but seven of my staff should not go on, if he told me that, it meant he did not want me to keep working".[74]

Personal life[edit]


His parents are Diego Maradona Senior and Dalma Salvadora Franco. His father is of Italian and Native American origin[16][17][75] and his mother is of Croatian origin.[76] Maradona married long-time fiancée Claudia Villafañe on 7 November 1984 in Buenos Aires, and they had two daughters, Dalma Nerea (born 2 April 1987) and Giannina Dinorah (born 16 May 1989), by whom he became a grandfather in 2009.[77] In his autobiography, Maradona admits he was not always faithful to Claudia, even though he refers to her as the love of his life.

Maradona and Villafañe divorced in 2004. Daughter Dalma has since asserted that the divorce was the best solution for all, as her parents remained on friendly terms. They travelled together to Napoli for a series of homages in June 2005[78] and were seen together on many other occasions, including the Argentina matches during 2006 FIFA World Cup.

During the divorce proceedings, Maradona admitted he was the father of Diego Sinagra (born in Naples on 20 September 1986). The Italian courts had already so ruled in 1993, after Maradona refused to undergo DNA tests for proving or disproving his paternity. Diego Jr. met Maradona for the first time in May 2003 after tricking his way onto a golf course in Italy where Maradona was playing.[79] Diego Sinagra is now a footballer playing in Italy.[80] After the divorce, Claudia embarked on a career as a theatre producer, and Dalma was seeking an acting career; she had expressed her desire to attend the Actor's Studio in Los Angeles.[81][82]

His younger daughter, Giannina, married Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero, with whom she has a son, Benjamin, born in Madrid on 19 February 2009. In January 2013, Agüero and Giannina separated.[83]

His mother, Dalma, died on 19 November 2011. Diego was in Dubai at the time, and desperately tried to fly back in time to see her, but was too late. She was 81 years old. His son Diego Fernando, whom he had with his ex long term partner Veronica Ojeda, was born 13 February 2013.

Drug abuse and health issues[edit]

Maradona after gaining weight, March 2005

From the mid-1980s until 2004 Diego Maradona was addicted to cocaine. He allegedly began using the drug in Barcelona in 1983.[84] By the time he was playing for Napoli he had a regular addiction, which began to interfere with his ability to play football.[85]

Over the years following his retirement his health seriously deteriorated. On 4 January 2000, while vacationing in Punta del Este, Uruguay, Maradona had to be rushed to the emergency room of a local clinic. In a press conference, doctors stated that it was detected heart muscle damage due to "an underlying health issue". It was later known that traces of cocaine were found in his blood and Maradona had to explain the circumstances to the police. After this he left Argentina and went to Cuba in order to follow a drug rehab plan.

On 18 April 2004, doctors reported that Maradona had suffered a major myocardial infarction following a cocaine overdose; he was admitted to intensive care in a Buenos Aires hospital. Scores of fans gathered around the clinic. He was taken off the respirator on 23 April and remained in intensive care for several days before being discharged on 29 April. He tried to return to Cuba, where he had spent most of his time in the years leading up to the heart attack, but his family opposed, having filed a judicial petition to exercise his legal guardianship.

Maradona had a tendency to put on weight, and suffered increasingly from obesity from the end of his playing career until undergoing gastric bypass surgery in a clinic in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia on 6 March 2005. His surgeon said that Maradona would follow a liquid diet for three months in order to return his normal weight.[86] When Maradona resumed public appearances shortly thereafter, he displayed a notably thinner figure.[87]

On 29 March 2007, Maradona was readmitted to a hospital in Buenos Aires. He was treated for hepatitis and effects of alcohol abuse, and was released on 11 April, but re-admitted two days later.[88] In the following days there were constant rumors about his health, including three false claims of his death within a month.[89] After transfer to a psychiatric clinic specialising in alcohol-related problems, he was discharged on 7 May.[90] On 8 May 2007, Maradona appeared on Argentine television and stated that he had quit drinking and had not used drugs in two and a half years.[91]

Political views[edit]

Maradona presents a signed shirt to former Argentina president Néstor Kirchner in 2007

Only in recent years, Maradona has shown sympathy to left-wing ideologies. Before that he had been vocal in his support of neoliberal Argentina President Carlos Menem, and especially of his Harvard University-educated economist Domingo Cavallo. He became friends with Cuban leader Fidel Castro while receiving treatment on the island, with Castro stating; "Diego is a great friend and very noble too. There’s also no question he’s a wonderful athlete and has maintained a friendship with Cuba to no material gain of his own.”[48] He also has a portrait of Castro tattooed on his left leg and one of Fidel's second in command, fellow Argentine Che Guevara on his right arm.[92] In his autobiography, El Diego, he dedicated the book to several people and groups of people including Castro, he wrote "To Fidel Castro and, through him, all the Cuban people".[93]

I asked myself, ‘Who is this man? Who is this footballing magician, this Sex Pistol of international football, this cocaine victim who kicked the habit, looked like Falstaff and was as weak as spaghetti?’ If Andy Warhol had still been alive, he would have definitely put Maradona alongside Marilyn Monroe and Mao Tse-Tung. I’m convinced that if he hadn’t been a footballer, he’d've become a revolutionary

Emir Kusturica, film director.[48]

Maradona was also a supporter of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. In 2005 he visited Venezuela with the specific aim of meeting Chávez, who received him in Miraflores. After this meeting Maradona claimed that he had come with the aim of meeting a "great man" ("un grande" in Spanish) but he had met instead a gigantic man ("un gigante" in Spanish, meaning he was more than great).

"I believe in Chávez, I am Chavista. Everything Fidel does, everything Chávez does, for me is the best."[94]

He has declared his opposition to what he identifies as imperialism, notably during the 2005 Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina. There he protested George W. Bush's presence in Argentina, wearing a T-shirt labeled "STOP BUSH" (with the "s" in "Bush" being replaced with a swastika) and referring to Bush as "human garbage".[95][96] In August 2007, Maradona went further, making an appearance on Chávez's weekly television show and saying: "I hate everything that comes from the United States. I hate it with all my strength."[97]

In December 2007, Maradona presented a signed shirt with a message of support to the people of Iran: it is to be displayed in the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' museum.[98]

In April 2013, Maradona visited the tomb of Hugo Chávez and urged Venezuelans to elect the late leader's designated successor, Nicolás Maduro, to continue the socialist leader's legacy; "Continue the struggle," Maradona said on television.[99] Wearing a red shirt with his trademark number 10, Maradona attended Maduro's final campaign rally in Caracas, signing footballs and kicking them to the crowd, and presented Maduro with a jersey of the Argentina national team.[99] Having visited Chávez's tomb with Maradona, Maduro said; "Speaking with Diego was very emotional because comandante Chávez also loved him very much".[99]

Financial problems[edit]

In March 2009 Italian officials announced that Maradona still owed the Italian government €37 million in taxes; €23.5 million of which was accrued interest on his original debt. They reported that thus far, Maradona has paid only €42,000, two luxury watches and a set of earrings.[100][101]

In popular culture[edit]

Religious display of Maradona in Naples, Italy

The American newspaper The Houston Chronicle wrote about Maradona:

To understand the gargantuan shadow Maradona casts over his soccer-mad homeland, one has to conjure up the athleticism of Michael Jordan, the power of Babe Ruth – and the human fallibility of Mike Tyson. Lump them together in a single barrel-chested man with shaggy black hair and you have El Diego, idol to the millions who call him D10S, a mashup of his playing number and the Spanish word for God.[102]

In Argentina, Maradona is considered a sports hero to many. He is idolized, receiving the name of "God". About this idolatry that exists in Argentina over Maradona, his former teammate Jorge Valdano said: "At the time that Maradona retired from active football, left traumatized Argentina. Maradona was more than just a great footballer. It was a special compensation factor for a country that in a few years lived several military dictatorships and social frustrations of all kinds". Valdano added that "Maradona offered to the Argentines way out of their collective frustration, and that's why people love him. There is a divine figure."

Ever since 1986, it is common for Argentines abroad to hear Maradona's name as a token of recognition, even in remote places.[22] The Tartan Army sing a version of the Hokey Cokey in honour of the Hand of God goal against England.[103] In Argentina, Maradona is often talked about in terms reserved for legends. In the Argentine film El Hijo de la Novia ("Son of the Bride"), somebody who impersonates a Catholic priest says to a bar patron: "they idolized him and then crucified him". When a friend scolds him for taking the prank too far, the fake priest retorts: "But I was talking about Maradona". He's the subject of the film El Camino de San Diego, though he himself only appears in archive footage.

Maradona was included in many cameos in the Argentine comic book El Cazador de Aventuras. After the closing of it, the authors started a new short-lived comic book titled "El Die", using Maradona as the main character. Maradona has had several online flash games that are entirely dedicated to his legacy.[104]

Everyone has an opinion on Diego Armando Maradona, and that’s been the case since his playing days. His magnificent performances and extraordinary goals at Mexico 86 will live forever in the memories of all football lovers, myself included. My most vivid recollection is of this incredibly gifted kid at the second FIFA U-20 World Cup in Japan in 1979. He left everyone open-mouthed every time he got on the ball. And at the age of 50 he still has many years in which to keep showing us his talent

— FIFA President Sepp Blatter.[48]

In Rosario, Argentina, locals organized the parody religion of the "Church of Maradona". The organization reformulates many elements from Christian tradition, such as Christmas or prayers, reflecting instead details from Maradona. It had 200 founding members, tens of thousands more[105] have become members via the church's official web site.

Many Argentine artists performed songs in tribute to Diego, like: "Maradó" by El Potro Rodrigo, "Maradona" by Andrés Calamaro, "Para siempre Diego" (Diego forever) by Los Ratones Paranoicos, "Para verte gambetear" (For seeing you dribble) by La Guardia Hereje, "Francotirador" (Sniper) by Attaque 77, "Dale Diez" (C'mon Diez) by Julio Lacarra, "Maradona blues" by Charly García, "Santa Maradona" (Saint Maradona) by Mano Negra, "La Vida Tombola" by Manu Chao, "¿Qué es Dios?" (What is God?) by Las Pastillas del Abuelo, "Pelusa"(Fluff) by Los Cafres, among others. And many films, like: Maradona, La Mano de Dios (Maradona, the Hand of God), El Camino de San Diego (Saint Diego's Road), Amando a Maradona (Loving Maradona), Maradona by Kusturica.

A television commercial[106] for Brazilian soft drink Guaraná Antarctica portrayed Maradona as a member of the Brazilian national football team, including wearing the yellow jersey and singing the Brazilian national anthem with Brazilian caps Kaká and Ronaldo. Later on in the commercial he wakes up realizing it was a nightmare after having drunk too much of the Brazilian soft drink. This generated some controversy in the Argentine media after its release (although the commercial was not supposed to air on the Argentine market, fans could see it via internet). Maradona replied that he has no problem in wearing the Brazilian national squad jersey despite Argentina and Brazil having a tense rivalry in football, but that he would refuse to wear the shirt of River Plate, Boca Juniors' traditional rival.[107]

Career statistics[edit]

Source: Club Statistics, at expertfootball.com[108]


1976Argentinos JuniorsPrimera División00112112
1981Boca Juniors281712114028
1982–83BarcelonaLa Liga20115345643523
1984–85NapoliSerie A3014633617
1992–93SevillaLa Liga26533298
1993–94Newell's Old BoysPrimera División5050
1995–96Boca Juniors245245
Career total39219912183331374589311


Argentina national team


Mandiyú de CorrientesArgentinaJanuary 1994June 1994121568.33
Racing ClubArgentinaMay 1995November 19951123618.18
ArgentinaArgentinaNovember 2008July 201019140573.68
Al Wasl FCUnited Arab EmiratesMay 2011July 201222751031.82



Argentina Argentinos Juniors


Argentina Boca Juniors



Spain Barcelona


Italy Napoli




Argentina Argentina





United Arab Emirates Al-Wasl



See also[edit]


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External links[edit]